MEXICO: The Mexican president on Tuesday (May 4) promised a full investigation to find those responsible for the deaths of at least 24 people in the collapse of an elevated metro line with a history of problems.
The wish was pronounced as the emergency services in the capital worked to recover the bodies of the victims still trapped in the wreckage of the cars which plunged to the ground on Monday evening.
Dozens of people were injured in the crash, one of the worst to hit Mexico City’s metro, raising questions about construction and maintenance standards on a network used by millions of people every day.
“A full investigation will be carried out … to find out the truth,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at his daily press conference, adding that independent international experts would assist prosecutors in the investigation.
“We cannot go into speculation, let alone blame possible perpetrators without having proof,” he added.
The city’s newest metro line was built when Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, a close ally of Lopez Obrador, was mayor of the capital from 2006 to 2012.
“For my part, I put myself at the full disposal of the authorities,” said Ebrard, considered among the possible candidates of the ruling party for the presidential election of 2024.
In 2014, Ebrard’s successor as mayor, Miguel Angel Mancera, suspended services at a dozen stations on the same metro line because repairs were needed due to excessive wear and tear.
A study subsequently concluded that there were problems with the design, operation and maintenance of the track.
The section where Monday’s crash happened was built by one of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s businesses, a spokesperson for the tycoon confirmed.
‘DON’T KNOW ANYTHING’
Cars were seen hanging from the metro viaduct in the south of the capital in a tangle of twisted cables.
Several minors were among the 24 dead, Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum told reporters.
Nearly 80 others were hospitalized.
The rescue operation had to be briefly suspended overnight for fear the wreckage would be too unstable, but was then resumed with the aid of a crane.
Most of those killed had not yet been officially identified, leaving family and friends desperate to find people traveling on the metro or in the area at the time.
In a hospital, Jose Luis Vigil was looking for a neighbor who feared he had been run over in his car when the concrete columns collapsed.
“We don’t know if he’s dead or alive. His stepfather told us he was already dead, but a reporter filmed a video where he is trapped and asks for help,” he said. he told AFP.
‘RIGHT TO THE TRUTH’
Sheinbaum has promised a structural review of the affected metro line, which will remain closed, and a full investigation into the causes of the crash with the help of a Norwegian company.
âCitizens have the right to know the truth,â said Sheinbaum, who is also considered a ruling party candidate for the 2024 presidential election.
Ricardo de la Torre, a Mexico City resident who lives near line 12, said he was concerned about the quality of the viaduct as trains shake neighboring buildings.
âBy that simple fact, we know the construction is bad,â he said.
Fernando Espino, leader of the metro workers’ union, told Milenio television station that engineers had already reported failures on the line on several occasions.
“It could have been negligence. They did not take it seriously,” he added, stressing that unlike other metro lines, number 12 is maintained by an external company.
Monday’s incident comes just over a year after two subway trains collided in Mexico City, leaving one dead and around 40 injured as panicked passengers escaped through dense smoke.
In January of this year, one person died and 29 were injured by smoke inhalation in a fire in the metro control center.
In one of the worst accidents on the network, two metro trains collided, killing 23 and injuring 55 in October 1975.